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Dublin: 13°C Saturday 23 October 2021

How I Spend My Money: An editor on €41,000 trying to save for a deposit

Her urge to save is having a negative effect on her social life.

WELCOME TO HOW I Spend My Money, a new series on TheJournal.ie that looks at what people in Ireland really do with their cash.

We’re asking readers to keep a record of how much they earn, how much they save, if anything, and what they spend their money on over the course of one week. Want to take part? Details on how to do it are at the bottom of the piece.

To kick off the series, we’re publishing diaries by people saving for a mortgage. 

Yesterday, a customer advisor in a bank told us how she is saving for a mortgage, and today another woman shares an account of the sacrifices she is making to save for a deposit.


Occupation: Editor
Age: 34
Location: Wicklow (living with family and work in Dublin)
Salary: €41,000 (husband earns €40,000)
Monthly pay (net): €2586.11 (after annual Dart taxsaver ticket)

Monthly expenses
Rent: €360 (between two people)
Household bills: €110 (€55 each) for electricity, bins and Sky
Transport: €80 a month (after tax) for a Dart annual pass, €200 (car payment), €64 (car insurance)
Phone bill: €30 (my husband’s is €50)
Health insurance: €60
Groceries: €450
Subscriptions: Netflix €10.99, Spotify €15

Myself and my husband have a joint account and save about €2,200 each month. We have approx €15,000 saved but will need around €35,000 for a deposit to buy a three-bed house. So, we’ll have to live with family for another year or two, or move out again and save slower. We hope to start a family in a year or two, but can’t until we have our own place.

We moved to my family’s home in Wicklow a year ago after our landlord wanted to sell our €1,300 per month, one-bedroom flat in Dublin. We moved in with my brother and his boyfriend for nine months, then to my sister’s three months ago because there’s more space. But it’s a little chaotic because she has young kids and so we are moving to my aunt’s granny flat in October when it’s refurbished. The first six months after the move we just cleared debts and paid off our wedding and now we’re saving for the house deposit.



3:00 am – I’m woken now, and then again at 5am and 5.50am by my nine-month-old niece crying. My sister gets up to soothe her. I can’t get back to sleep and immediately start to worry that I’ll be tired giving a presentation in our team meeting later.

6:30 am – My alarm goes off and I snooze it for 10 minutes. My two-year-old nephew runs up and down the hall shouting “miaow” repeatedly as he follows one of the cats into the kitchen. I put the coffee on while my husband gets up, showers and dresses and then we leave the house around 7:35 am. We realise we forgot to get petrol for the car, it’s €25 each to fill the tank.

8:00 am – We rush to the service station and then on to Greystones park-and-ride, a 20-minute journey and nearly miss the 8am Dart to Dublin. We both put on our headphones and watch some Netflix for the 50-minute journey because the school kids are so loud in the morning and we prefer to zone out this early rather than talk.

8:50 am – I get off at Tara Street station and my husband gets off at Connolly. I need to source a Dublin Bike for my 15-minute trip to work and get in around 9:10 am. I have flexitime in my office but because we have only one car, we have to carpool and work to my husband’s non-flexible schedule. 

1:00 pm – I go to the supermarket to buy lunches for the week; cooked salmon, chicken and salads and spend €25. By then, my break is over so I eat at my desk while working.

5:10 pm – I walk 25 minutes to get the 5:40 pm train. If I miss it, then it’s a 30-minute wait until the next one while my husband waits at the car in Greystones for me. Sometimes I use Dublin Bikes but today I feel the need for some exercise because I’m too tired by the time I get home. I make it on time and get into Greystones by 6.30pm. I listen to podcasts for the 50-minute journey.

6:30 pm – I’m off to Aldi to stock up on cat food (€15) as we’re going to be staying in Dublin flat-sitting for a friend. She offered it to us because she knows we are struggling for ‘couple time’ living with family all the time, and thought we might prefer the shorter commute for a week. 

7:00 pm – We get home and have to wait half an hour to cook as my brother-in-law is already cooking and there’s not a lot of kitchen space. His sister is also staying with us for two weeks so the house is busier than usual. I make an all-in-one pot lamb mince curry with bulgur, courgette, peppers and spinach. There are leftovers so we won’t have to cook tomorrow. I save it in a lunchbox and put it in our fridge – we had to get another fridge because of space issues.

8:30 pm – We watch TV and read until bedtime. I’m pretty wrecked today so go to bed by 9:30 pm to read and am asleep by 10:30 pm on the dot.

Today’s total: €65


7:00 am – The alarm goes off and my god the difference an extra 30 minutes sleep makes. I have a doctor’s appointment this morning so have to drop my husband to the train. It’ll cost him extra because he’s getting on earlier than Greystones and our tax saver ticket doesn’t cover it.

8:00 am – I get back to the house and make some scrambled eggs, toast and coffee, then get dressed and ready to go. I go to a specialist every six months for a long-term illness, and it’s a bit of a trek. I have to take a half-day sick day from work (pre-arranged). 

10:30 am – I get to the clinic. I have a chat with the doctor and get my bloods taken, which is never my favourite part. When I get my prescription I head to the pharmacy to collect it, and it winds up costing €150 for six months. I just switched medication so wasn’t sure how much it would be. My other meds were cheaper, but I feel way better on the new one, so it’s worth it.

11:30 am – I have a look in some shops and end up getting my mum a pair of high heels for my cousin’s wedding for just €20 from Tesco. I’m a major bargain hunter so this thrills me no end. I buy a lot of my clothes in charity and vintage shops and specifically buy them in wealthier areas as the clothes are in better condition.

1:00 pm – I make it to work. I park in my colleague’s paid-for space because he’s on annual leave, otherwise it costs around €100 a month to park. We tried driving up for one month when we first moved, but it took so long and cost so much in petrol, parking and mental health strain that we switched to the train. I eat my lunch I bought on Monday at my desk while I go through my emails. I’m due a pay rise soon and am in negotiations with my team leader. I’m looking to either get a raise or look elsewhere at this point. Living costs just seem to be going up and up. We keep an eye on Daft and sadly realise that we’d never be able to afford to move back to Dublin and save. And we have a cat, but so many ads say “no pets”. I would happily pay an extra pet deposit if it appeased them. 

5:00 pm – I leave work and drive to pick up my husband, and then he drives us home. We get back by 6:30 pm after some bumper-to-bumper N11 traffic, which puts us both in bad form. We have reheated dinner from last night.

7:30 pm – I drop the shoes up to my Mum’s house, she lives five minutes away, and then my husband and I both pack for the week flat-sitting in Dublin. We watch some TV and read, and go to sleep around 10.30pm.

Today’s total: €150 (my Mum paid me back)


6:20 am – We have to drive to work again today because we are going to flat-sit after work. We get up earlier because the traffic is awful when the schools are back – it takes about an hour and a half to get to Dublin. 

9:00 am – Work is the same old routine, emails, admin and meetings. We have a cake and singing for my colleague’s birthday. There seems to be a birthday every week!

1:00 pm – I go for a walk at lunchtime – to work off the cake – and then eat a chicken salad.

5:00 pm – After work I drive to the flat we’re minding. My husband gets a bus as the route to pick him up would take longer than the bus via town.

6:00 pm – We have to go food shopping as it would have been too much hassle to bring food to work. We used to fight about the weekly shop because it cost a lot because I insist on a variety of vegetables and my husband would happily eat pasta and pizza every day. Just because we’re budgeting doesn’t mean we can’t eat healthily. We buy some meats, fish, eggs and vegetables in Lidl and it comes to €30 each.

7:30 pm – We eat salmon and steamed veggies for dinner, then I go for a 30-minute walk. We watch TV for the evening. I make a pot of porridge and put it in lunch boxes for breakfasts for two days. We don’t have as long a commute tomorrow so stay up later than usual, but are asleep by about 11:15 pm.

Today’s total: €30


7:30 am – The alarm buzzes and I shower first, then dress and get coffee. It’s nice to be able to travel on my own to work, and not be reliant on my husband to get up in time. He’s pretty bad at getting up without multiple alarms or me nagging.

9:00 am – I eat porridge at my desk for breakfast when I get in, reheated in the microwave.

1:00 pm – At lunch, I go for a walk and then eat at my desk – the same food I bought Monday. Today is mackerel and salad. I get a text from my sister, the electric bill has come in and it’s €100 per couple (so €50 each). I transfer it from our joint account straight away so I don’t forget. I knew this bill was coming but wasn’t sure how much to allocate, so most comes out of our ‘emergency fund’. It’s looking pretty empty because two weeks ago we had to get a new exhaust on the car and it cost €300, then we got a flat tyre and had to buy a new one for €80.

5:00 pm – Work is quiet for a change. I leave and walk to the bus stop and I’m home by 6pm. I make omelette for dinner. My husband went to play football with his old Dublin team and is back by 9:30 pm. It’s what he misses most about moving county, his old team. They were his main social circle. He tried to keep playing with them when we moved but just couldn’t make the training times and commute. It’s hard not to be tired all the time when we spend approx 15 hours a week travelling, that’s like an extra day’s work.

10:00 pm – When he gets back, we watch TV and go to bed by 11.30pm.

Today’s total: €50


7:30 am – I’m up, shower and grab a coffee. I have a work call so need to get in on time. 

1:00 pm – I do the same thing as usual, go for a walk and then eat at my desk. I do have to say no to eating out a good bit as my colleagues are pretty social. Today is no different with a group going to get burritos. It can be isolating not joining in on lunches, but it’s a necessary combination of saving money and having a shorter lunchtime that makes me say no nine times out of 10. I do hope that they don’t think that I’m being standoffish, but there’s only so many times I can say, “I can’t, I’m saving for a house”, before I bore myself to tears.

5:00 pm – After work, I meet a friend for a quick drink, taking advantage of the fact that normally if I want to do anything social, I have to get a bus, which are hourly to Wicklow and €9 one-way. My friend and I have two glasses of wine each and it comes to €14 each. My friend and I haven’t hung out in six months as I’ve been saving and she’s been away for work a lot. I try to allocate myself two social outings a month, otherwise I’d get pretty bored or depressed, or miss my friends.

8:00 pm – I get back to the flat we’re minding and my husband has made dinner – lamb chops, veg and potatoes. We drink a bottle of red wine while watching a couple of movies.

11:00 pm – I fall asleep in front of the TV. My husband sends me up to bed and then I can’t go back to sleep so I read for an hour.

Today’s total: €14


9:00 am – We sleep in and have coffee in bed. The 6:30 am starts have taken their toll and now we can’t sleep in at all. We take advantage of the quiet flat and make a big fry breakfast and read the news on our phones. I try to limit Facebook as it’s mostly rubbish, I find Instagram better anyway, although I need to unsubscribe from the many, many dog accounts I follow.

1:30 pm – My husband goes to play football with his old team and I go out to a friend’s house for coffee. I miss just dropping by for a cuppa. When we first moved, my husband and I used to fight a lot about who got to use the car, because we were dependent on it to go anywhere. We’ve gotten much better at organising fairly now.

5:00 pm – I head back to the flat and pick up a bottle of white wine on the way for €8. I relax and make roast chicken, veg and potatoes for dinner. This meal will last us three dinners as I’ll use the leftovers to make a chicken soup. My husband comes home to shower and eat, then heads back out to hang out with the lads.

7:00 pm – My husband heads back out to hang out with the lads from his team, taking advantage of the fact he doesn’t have to stay over in someone’s house. I stay in and have a ‘pampering’ night, running a bubble bath, doing a face mask and painting my nails. I binge-watch Insatiable on Netflix and have a glass of wine or three.

11:30 pm – My husband gets home around and we chat about his night over some €12 beers, so €6 a piece. We watch some TV and go to bed around 1:00 am.

Today’s total: €14


9:30 am – We sleep in and then eat toast and boiled eggs for breakfast, washed down with coffee.

10:30 am – We drive back to Wicklow so my husband can play football with his other team. I drop him off at the pitch and go back to my sister’s house to see our cat. He acts like he didn’t even notice I was gone, as usual. Of course I nearly weep because I missed him so much.

11:00 am – I put on some laundry. My sister says the Dart times have changed and I check the website. They change this coming week and it will mean services go earlier by six minutes. I make a note in my phone calendar to remind us when we’re back to using the service.

1:00 pm – My husband gets dropped off at the house by a football friend and we drop into my Mum for a cup of tea. Afterwards we head back to the flat in Dublin, and we cook dinner from the leftover chicken as planned.

4:00 pm – I read my book for a while and then decide to go out for a walk. I listen to a podcast Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness, as I’m missing Queer Eye since I watched them all. My husband falls asleep on the couch. I prep some porridge for my breakfast tomorrow and wake him up or he won’t sleep tonight.

8:00 pm – We’re in bed. We watched a movie, The Commitments, this evening because there is a DVD collection in the sitting room, and we haven’t seen it for years. Our favourite part is guessing where the locations are, we mostly just recognise Smithfield though.

10:30 pm – We’re both tired so go to bed.

Today’s total: €0

Weekly subtotal: €323

Are you a spender, a saver or a splurger? We’re looking for readers who will keep a money diary for a week. If you’re interested send a mail to money@thejournal.ie. 

This piece was updated on Thursday, 4 October to clarify that the writer pays €360 in rent each month.

About the author:

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